"Before you can dance," Luigi said in the April 1962 issue of Dance Magazine, "you must know how to love, how to give."

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#TBT: Luigi Redefined Jazz Technique—But His Career Almost Never Happened

The technique developed by the legendary Luigi has become inextricable from jazz dance. But it was born from a career that almost never was: In 1946, at 21, the dancer was left comatose and partially paralyzed in the wake of a car accident, two months to the day after his discharge from the U.S. Navy. It was doubtful he would walk again, but three years later he danced in his first Hollywood film—and began developing and adapting the exercises that would form the basis of his technique.

Luigi (who was born Eugene Louis Faccuito but went by the nickname given to him by Gene Kelly while filming On the Town) spent a lifetime imparting his knowledge. "I want to know who you are as a human being," he told us in the April 1991 issue of Dance Magazine. "I don't sit at home and plan an artificial feeling for the class. I use the life around me at the moment—the students in the class—and whatever they present to me. What you are at the moment is important to me. There is enough life experience in me to be able to call upon what is needed."

He received a Dance Magazine Award in 2014 and passed away the following April, just a few weeks after his 95th birthday.

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Studio shots by Alinne Volpato

Jovani Furlan's Open-Hearted Dancing—And Personality—Lights Up New York City Ballet

Something magical happens when Jovani Furlan smiles at another dancer onstage. Whether it's a warm acknowledgment between sections of Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering or an infectious grin delivered in the midst of a puzzle box of a sequence in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go, whoever is on the receiving end brightens.

"I could stare at him forever," says New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild. "He's just that kind of open spirit. He's not judging anything. It's like he's looking at you with his arms wide open and a big smile—even if he's not smiling, that's the energy he's giving you."

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